Preston North End manager Alex Neil was delighted to make his fourth signing of the January transfer window with a permanent deal for Doncaster Rovers captain Ben Whiteman.
The 24-year-old joined loan recruits Jayson Molumby, Ched Evans and Daniel Iversen at Deepdale after a busy first ten days of the January transfer window for the Lilywhites.
The North End boss felt that the signing was another positive piece of recruitment: “We have been after him since the window opened and we have managed to stave off another couple of suitors, who were interested, so it has been great business from us,” he said.
“It is well-documented the issues we have in the middle of the pitch in terms of contracts expiring and we need reinforcements and additions in there, because we don’t know what the outcome of that is going to be.
“Not only that, but he is a player who has his best years ahead of him. He is only 24 and I am really happy that we have managed to get him in.”
The new No.17 has almost 200 professional games already under his belt and this experience at a relatively young age is something Alex feels will benefit his new midfielder.
“It is important that he has a lot of games under his belt,” he continued. “It is difficult when you sign young players and they have only maybe played 20, 30 or 40 games, because we are at a level now where we are trying to challenge at the top end of the Championship and to do that with young kids, that haven’t played a lot of football at that level is extremely difficult.
“Whereas having that grounding and having those games under his belt, means that he is ready. He has been at big clubs before; he has done it at League One level and the challenge for Ben is to come here and do it at Championship level.”
And the gaffer expects him to add something different to his midfield options: “He is very different from the likes of Jayson, who wants to get up and down the pitch and go and support and get into the opposition box.
“I see Ben as a deep lying playmaker. He has a good range of passing, he wants to control the game, wants to sit, senses danger and breaks up play and he is certainly player that gives us balance in the middle.”
Subject to governing body ratification, Ben could be available for selection for this weekend’s trip to Bristol City, along with the other recent signings, albeit a disruption to training this week means that he may not have much time with his new team-mates to prepare.
“It has not been ideal this week. We have had a few different challenges ongoing, getting tested done and off the back of that, the new lads haven’t got any minutes on the grass and training with each other.
“That is certainly a hurdle we have to overcome and then next week, we won’t have a full week because of two games in a week.
“It is certainly not going to be easy for them to settle in and get to grips with how we play quickly, but we will do as best we can,” added the manager.
Saturday's trip to Bristol City, which could see Ben's debut, is live on iFollow PNE, with Guy Clarke and former North End and Robins defender Rob Edwards on commentary duty - click here now to sign up for a £10 match pass to watch live.